Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Superintendent: ELLs Making Gains in LA Schools

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy sent a memo to the district’s board of trustees recently outlining the academic gains by English Language Learners within recent years.

The memo to the district’s board was dated May 31, and was entitled, “Next Three Years: Policy and Investment.” The school district enrolls the largest number of ELLs in the nation, according to the memo. It began redesigning its program for ELLs in 2010.

He wrote that “far fewer” elementary school ELLs are testing at the “Below Basic” and “Far Below Basic” English proficiency levels. The percentage of students testing at those low proficiency levels dropped from 37 percent to 26 percent. At the secondary level, there was an 8 percent drop in students scoring at the lower levels.

California has struggled with long term English Language Learners who have been in the school system for six years or more, but still have not become English proficient. The district’s new master plan for addressing ELLs takes this into account. Two courses have been created at the middle and high school levels addressing the student population. Students receive targeted help with improving their reading and language skills, guided by testing data.

As part of the plan, 750 special education teachers were trained on strategies to use with ELLs with special needs.

The Learning the Language blog reported that Los Angeles revamped its program after an enforcement action by the U.S. Department of Education. California is also now beginning to track data on long term ELL students.